When we talk about science, whether it is with the aim of securing funding, justifying a lifestyle, or considering human endeavour, it is often justified by the idea that research serves to 'further human knowledge' or 'develop new technology'.
What if we would change that paradigm?
What if a new way to look at scientific research was as a form of social planning?
As we all know, technological prowess without intention and without a certain level of consciousness can not only be meaningless - it can be destructive.
I guess what this really starts to boil down to is:
What is our aim on this planet?
Is it to rise in knowledge, technology and power to God-like proportions, in order to keep on rising? To reach 'the top'? To become the ultimate stamp collectors of fact and understanding?
Or: Is it to learn to live gracefully, sustainably and justly on Earth?
The definition of a successful species is one that avoids extinction. One that tweaks the unwritten, but very much existent natural laws, and learns to survive, and even thrive.
One quite intuitive law involves not destroying the entire surrounding ecosystem of a species. Out-compete and destroy all fellow organisms in a niche, and the niche will collapse and fail to support any living thing.
We have a deeply set need and hunger to understand the world. To harness every power, source of energy and extract every resource this planet has. To build new resources, technologies and machines out of everything we have. To break down huge, complex systems and beautiful holistic Life into its reductionist parts, reducing down to smaller and smaller particles - with an entire discipline devoted to finding the 'smallest particle'. To dominate.
And what is our motivation behind doing so? Is it out of a love of our planet, of life and how things work? Or is it rooted in a deep fear of being out of control in an unpredictable, vast planet, with forces of Nature that constantly threaten our joint superiority complex?
Really, our only real mission on this planet is to learn to live in a successful way. Successful for every member of our species, successful for every member of every other species, and successful for our home, environment, planet.
If we really are the extraordinarily intelligent species we consider ourselves, then we have no excuse in neglecting this pure truth, and striving for higher understanding, and a higher level of collective consciousness.
Just like we are told, when we are children, to be the 'bigger person': to let go of control, personal vindication, selfish validation and recognition, and to be kind, to apologise, to set a good example. It's a lesson we start to learn when we are five years old. What happened to that lesson? If it applies to us individually, why does it not apply to the collective?
And so, this brings me back to the goals and motivation behind science.
Science is funded with the aim to better human understanding and to serve society. It is not satisfactory anymore for science to be painted as a field of purely observation, experimentation and understanding for the sake of understanding.
We need to integrate our moral obligations, our summons to our planet, and a long lost sentimentality to beauty, justness, and the things around us.
Many are talking about humans becoming 'God-like' in our capabilities and technologies. Can everybody pause, and think for a second, about what it actually means to become 'God-like'? Is it to become all-knowing, all-controlling, and power-wielding? Or was God described as a being so humble, kind and all-protecting, despite being all-knowing and all-powerful, that He is - by definition - other worldly?
Science is a form of social planning, and by extension, planning for the future of our world.
Research, therefore, directly mirrors where we want to go as a society. Let us treat it that way, and let us scrutinise current research with that collective level of consciousness.